No more primogeniture

December 3, 2012

It’s been almost three decades since the heir to the British throne became a parent and, in that time, the media obsession with the fertility of celebrities has exploded.

So with the announcement Monday that Prince William and his wife, Kate, are expecting their first child next year, we’d all better start girding ourselves for months and months of stories on “baby bumps,” morning sickness and maternity wear. Anyone wishing to avoid it had better stick to C-Span and steer clear of the grocery store check-out counter.

But the birth of the newest member of the Windsor clan will be a milestone in more than the usual ways: Following a decision last year by all the states in the British Commonwealth of Nations, William and Kate’s first-born will ascend to the throne, regardless of gender. No longer will the oldest son be given preference.

Of course, there are critics of the monarchy who argue that the whole concept of a royal family is a holdover from less enlightened times. But, at the very least, setting aside primogeniture must be seen as a mark of progress.



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